Pairing food with wine can’t be simplified by matching colors
Yes, people take wine seriously—which is why it’s possible to attach the word blasphemy to those who do not speak the truth about this glorious liquid. Often, though, blasphemy turns out to be only an accusation made by the uninformed. Ask Galileo, who in 1633 was accused of blasphemy and found guilty of heresy for daring to declare that our planet revolved around the sun.
Galileo spent the rest of his life under house arrest for this. Don’t worry. A similar fate does not await you if you declare that only white wines go with fish or reds with meat. There are uninformed people out there who may accuse you of blasphemy. Now, you can help them see the light.
The problem with one size fits all
There’s validity to the idea of the white/white red/red rule, but you shouldn’t apply it in all cases. Not all red meat is the same. You likely wouldn’t confuse salmon with flounder. The same is true with wine.
So, while it’s generally a wise idea to pair white wine with fish, it’s also important to look past the color. A Gewürztraminer tastes completely different than a Sauvignon Blanc—yet both are white wines.
This takes us to the idea that wines and food have the responsibility to pay complementary respect in flavor, which sometimes has little to do with color. Your Dover sole filet would be overwhelmed by our Sangiovese. The flip-side to that would be the consequences of pairing our Pinot Grigio with a strong and oily filet of salmon.
And then there’s the consideration of how your meat or fish is prepared. Perhaps you’ll prepare calamari Fra Diavolo-style. A delicate white wine would be lost in the mouthful of spices.
Some specificity for the generality
Hard and fast doesn’t work well with the complications brought on by pairing a main ingredient—in this case, either meat or fish—with myriad cooking styles, and then applying the white/white red/red rule.
The color rule is a good place to start, but then take it to the next round of elimination by keeping these things in mind:
Galileo was on the bad side of the Catholic Church for more than 300 years for daring to voice his opinion about our Earth and the sun. Ultimately, the church admitted that there was a preponderance of evidence to their contrary belief.
You may have some pushback when you decide to order a bottle of our Viognier to go with your steak au poivre. It’s doubtful you’ll spend the rest of our life under house arrest, though. In fact, you may actually gain standing by educating your naysayers about the limiting consequences of the white/white red/red rule.